Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center near Finland, Minn., on Lake Superior has completed two new facilities -- and commenced on a third.

They include a residence for graduate students that is part of a $9.4 million expansion project financed by Wolf Ridge board members, foundations and other supporters.

The under-construction Margaret A. Cargill Lodge will add capacity for housing students visiting the center. The dorm will be built to the highest international standard for sustainability.

"The 'M.A.C. Lodge' will be a living teaching tool, inspiring students to explore how their daily choices impact the planet," said Peter Smerud, executive director of the center. "It will be net zero in both energy and water usage ... and one of only 40 in the nation designed to this level."

A ceremony earlier in June also marked the inaugural development of the center’s new 68 acres of Lake Superior shoreline.

“Learning experiences at the lakeshore will inspire Wolf Ridge students to understand the current freshwater issues of the world and its greatest freshwater lake," Smerud said.

Wolf Ridge, which says it’s the largest accredited environmental learning center in the nation, hosts more than 13,000 K-12 students from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Educators, families and youth nationally participate in its educational camps and workshops. More information is online at wolf-ridge.org.

Neal St. Anthony